A Long Goodbye

For weeks, all anybody in Seattle has been talking about is Viadoom, the anticipated gridlock to follow the permanent closure of the elevated portion of Highway 99, otherwise known as the Viaduct.

As Ruby and I departed the Henrybuilt holiday party on Friday night (Henry and Kristine had left earlier), I remembered the Viaduct was scheduled to close – forever – at 10pm. It was 9:45. We could get to the Viaduct in 5 minutes. I asked Ruby if she was up for an adventure. Silly question.

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Best Christmas Ever

The Fry Family Quartet just wrapped up a week in Grafton, Vermont, with the family with whom we’ve made the most memories over the years. Brian, Jesse, JoJo and Becca were amazing hosts, tour guides and playmates. We went hiking, skiing, swimming, and made snow forts. We made cookies, tenderloin, ham and ginger bread houses. We watched James Bond, Harry Potter, Rudolph and Elf. We shopped, played board games and lit fires. We told stories, laughed and cried. And, despite my speeding ticket in Felchville, we all agreed it was the best Christmas vacation on record. We love you BE, Jess, JoJo and Becca. Can’t wait to do it all again in Bellingham.

Christmas Eve Mission in Woodstock

“Your mission, if you choose to accept it…” was how the letter started. JoJo, Henry and Ruby’s cousin, was reading aloud a handwritten letter (by me) to her cousins and sister as we all stood in front of a country store on the main street of Woodstock, Vermont. Their mission, the letter continued, was to spend the twenty dollar bill they each had found in their respective envelopes they’d just been handed. Later, over hot chocolate, they were to report back to the group what they had purchased and why they had purchased it.

We are spending our Christmas vacation in Vermont with our favorite Brooklyn family. We planned to attend Christmas Eve mass in Woodstock, and we had a few hours to kill; so we decided to mess with the kids bit. We’d told them we would be spending the afternoon in the Woodstock public library reading books before mass. To our surprise, they weren’t entirely dreading it. Henry was maybe even a little excited.

After parking the car and walking through downtown Woodstock toward the library, I stopped abruptly on the sidewalk and asked the kids to gather round. That’s when we distributed their envelopes that included crisp twenty dollar bills and the handwritten letter that JoJo read aloud. Forty five minutes later, we all emerged from the country store, each with a bag containing something valued at twenty dollars. The kids all underspent, so they pooled their change to buy candy.

From there we proceeded to the Woodstock Inn, where over hot cocoa and dessert, we unveiled our purchases – youngest to oldest. All three girls bought ginger bread house kits. Henry bought a model locomotive. Kristine went with a spiral vegetable slicer. Jesse bought her favorite home remedy – apple cider vinegar, and Brian got some hot pads. I opted for backgammon to add to the Eiting board game collection.

I’m not sure if this will become a new family tradition, but it was a fun way to spend some quality family time on Christmas Eve in Woodstock.

Ruby Wins

Every day, for more than two years, Ruby has been asking for a pug. And every day, I have steadfastly held to my no-pet position, citing everything from logistics to her daily chore track record as my rationale. It’s gone back and forth, with each side digging in deeper. It felt like the Cold War. Every night at the dinner table, Ruby would have another impassioned speech for me – à la ‘Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall! ‘ Ruby wore me down. She outspent me in the emotion department. She spread her propaganda around Fry Lodge with her cute pug sketches, pug posters and Doug the Pug Instagram shares. She turned Kristine and Henry into allies.

A few weeks ago, I woke up and decided I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of Fry Lodge history. For her 10th birthday, we would give Ruby a pug. We surprised her with it on our drive back from Grandma and Grandpa’s house after Thanksgiving. She was shocked. She was victorious.

As Ruby turned 10 this weekend, it became clear we had made the right decision. Ruby is starting her second decade a new person. Every morning and evening, she takes her new little buddy, Arlo, for a walk. She feeds him, cleans up the occasional mess, and prefers playing with her puppy over watching YouTube videos.

Ruby had a birthday slumber party on her actual birthday. Arlo was the star of the show. The girls chased him around the yard and then took 15-minute turns holding the puppy as they watched Christmas movie classic, Elf. Both Arlo and the girls were moving a little slowly this morning.

Detente is over. Ruby won. All is good at Fry Lodge. Happy birthday, Ruby. We love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for your tenacity.

The Flower Pot

In 1948, when my dad was a boy, his family built a cabin on Priest Lake, Idaho. That cabin was home to countless memories for the extended Fry family. Even after my grandmother sold it in the early 1980s, we rented it for a few weeks during summers for family reunions. The cabin was torn down in 2003 and replaced with a new home. Earlier this year, when that house came up for sale, my parents bought it. We decided to celebrate the Fry Family Thanksgiving there this year.

For several years, while my dad’s family gradually built it, the old Priest Lake cabin had no running water. As a boy, upon arrival, my dad’s first job was to fill two buckets of water from the lake – one for drinking and one for washing. His dad, my Grandpa Fry, built an outhouse up the hill from the cabin. They called it The Flower Pot, and hung a sign inside that said “No matter how much you water it, nothing ever grows.” The outhouse’s unique feature: it was a double holer. Apparently my aunts, uncles and grandparents had no problem sitting next to each other while they did their business.

When my parents bought the current Priest Lake house this summer, The Flower Pot still sat atop the hill. It had long since fallen over, and nobody had used either one of its holes in decades. Before having the relic hauled off, my parents salvaged several of the boards that were used to build the outhouse in 1948.

This Thanksgiving weekend, we used those boards to spruce up the new Priest Lake cabin’s modern day Flower Pot. My dad and brother nailed the old boards to the bathroom wall to support the towel rack and toilet paper holder. My daughter Ruby, using my old wood burning set, made a new sign, which now hangs proudly above the toilet. It’s just like 1948. But now, you don’t have somebody sitting next to you while you water the flowers.